Miss Universe 2007
As Miss USA, Smith represented the United States in the Miss Universe 2007 pageant held in Mexico City, Mexico, on May 28, 2007. She arrived in Mexico on May 1, and along with the 77 other delegates participated in weeks of events, rehearsals and preliminary competitions prior to the final telecast.
On May 20, Smith competed in the national costume competition dressed as Elvis Presley, a costume which reflected her home state of Tennessee. During her appearance she was loudly booed by the Mexican crowd, who were seen giving Smith the thumbs-down sign.
After competing in the preliminary competition, Smith made the top 15 during the pageant finals, where she placed sixth in swimsuit and advanced to the top ten. During the evening gown competition, Smith slipped and fell down before quickly getting back onto her feet. She was able to remain composed as she finished her walk, and placed fifth out of the ten delegates despite the fall.
Smith was again booed by the Mexican crowd after she was announced as part of the top five while the local representative from Mexico was not. This continued as Smith answered her final question, finishing by thanking the crowd in Spanish, which finally made the crowd cheer. She eventually placed fourth runner-up, equaling the placement of her predecessor Tara Conner at Miss Universe 2006.
The booing and jeering during the pageant was a repeat of a similar incident during Miss Universe 1993, also held in Mexico City, when Miss USA Kenya Moore was loudly booed. Both women were of African-American descent competing against Mexican women of white descent. The audience reaction has also been attributed to political issues between the two nations.
In August 2007, Mexican tourism officials apologized for the behavior of the audience and said that Smith is welcome back in Mexico any time.
Smith was born on a U.S. Army base in Panama. She lived in Clarksville after her parents were stationed toFort Campbell. She is biethnic, half African-American and half European-American.
She attended Clarksville Academy and graduated from Davidson Academy for high school. Smith graduated magna cum laude from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee in 2006 with a bachelor of science in journalism. Smith graduated a semester early, in December 2006. She received a full tuition scholarship to attend Belmont due to her community service activities and academic achievements throughout high school. While she was at Belmont, she interned in Chicago, Illinois, for eight months with Harpo Productions, a company owned by Oprah Winfrey. In January 2007, it was announced that she had been chosen by Winfrey to volunteer for one month at her Leadership Academy for Girls